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N.C. Legislature Approves 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill; Governor Plans To Sign Measure

N.C. Legislature Approves 72-Hour Mandatory Delay Bill; Governor Plans To Sign Measure

June 4, 2015 — The North Carolina Assembly on Wednesday voted 71-43 to pass a bill (HB 465) that would extend the state's mandatory delay before an abortion from 24 to 72 hours, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.

The measure now heads to Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who on Wednesday said he will sign the legislation (Campbell, Raleigh News & Observer, 6/3). If enacted, North Carolina would join several other states with 72-hour mandatory delays, including Missouri, South Dakota and Utah. Meanwhile, Oklahoma passed a 72-hour mandatory delay law (HB 1409) that is scheduled to take effect in November (Drew, AP/ABC News, 6/3).

Bill Details

In addition to the mandatory delay, the North Carolina bill would allow doctors to refuse to perform abortions if they have ethical, moral or religious objections to the procedure. The measure also would institute additional reporting requirements for providers.

Specifically, the measure would require physicians to provide the state Department of Health and Human Services with information about abortions performed after the 16th week of pregnancy. Further, the bill would require additional documentation for abortions performed after 20 weeks' gestation to demonstrate that continuing the pregnancy would have threatened the woman's life or substantially impaired her health. The state prohibits abortion after 20 weeks in other circumstances.

In addition, the state Senate amended HB 465 to require annual inspections of clinics and ambulatory surgical centers that perform abortions. Further, the measure would mandate that no one under age 18 would be allowed to be employed by such providers.

State senators also approved an amendment that changed the bill's requirement that abortion can only be performed by ob-gyns. Under the amendment, physicians with "sufficient training" in "miscarriage management" and abortion care would be allowed to perform the procedures.

Further, the state Senate amended the bill to include provisions that increase restrictions on sex offenders and add protections for survivors of domestic violence. The chamber also added language that would alter the state's definition of statutory rape to make it easier for individuals to collect payments for child support (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/3).

Reaction

Sarah Preston, acting executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, voiced objections to the bill, saying, "A woman is more than capable of taking the time she needs to make her own personal medical decisions without the government forcing her to endure an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay" (Burns, "@NCCapitol," WRAL, 6/3).

Separately, State Rep. Rick Glazier (D) said the measure would make it more difficult for women to get an abortion. "Will there be fewer abortions? Hardly -- they'll simply occur elsewhere, in the back alleys and dark rooms," he said (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/3).

Meanwhile, prior to McCrory's announcement, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and Planned Parenthood noted that signing the bill would break his promise to voters (AP/ABC News, 6/3). McCrory during his 2012 gubernatorial campaign said he would not approve any additional abortion restrictions if elected (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/3).

Alison Kiser, senior director of communications at Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, said, "Going back on his word by allowing these new restrictions to become law would represent a fundamental betrayal of voters' trust" (AP/ABC News, 6/3). According to the News & Observer, Planned Parenthood planned to bring petitions against the bill with 16,000 signatures to McCrory's office on Thursday (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/3).